• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss fury over Saab 'meddling' in Gripen vote

TT/AFP/The Local · 22 Jan 2014, 08:40

Published: 22 Jan 2014 08:40 GMT+01:00

Swiss Social Democratic MP Evi Allemann claims that Saab has been quietly financing campaigners in favour of the deal, worth an estimated 3.1 billion Swiss francs ($3.47 billion).

While Saab's support of the pro-Gripen campaign may not be technically illegal, Allemann sees the Swedish firm's behaviour as bordering on scandalous.

"We don't have any clear rules for referendum campaigns, as a result, foreign companies feel they can shamelessly get involved in national decisions," she told the TT news agency.

Saab has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, citing Swiss rules which "also include refraining from comment on campaign financing".

But the accusations of Saab's involvement has also caused concern among those who support the deal, with the leader of the liberal FDP party, Philpp Müller, calling such actions "counterproductive".

"It makes it harder for us centre-right politicians to convince people of the importance of the Gripen purchase," Müller told Swiss newspaper Blick.

The developments come following a decision taken last week that a referendum on the deal would be held on May 18th. Opponents submitted over 100,000 signatures seeking a referendum, with campaigners hoping to block the Gripen deal.

Under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, citizens can have the last word on a huge array of issues if campaigners muster enough signatures from voters in order to force a plebiscite.

Polls have shown that a majority of voters oppose the Gripen deal.

Approved by the government in 2011 and backed by parliament last year, it cannot be blocked as such.

But opponents have been able to contest the law that allows the purchase to be funded by drawing an annual 300 million Swiss francs from the army's budget over 10 years.

The coalition campaigning against the deal is steered by the left-leaning Socialists and Greens, as well as anti-militarists, but also includes economic liberals opposed to the price tag.

The opponents also argue that the model of Gripen chosen by the authorities only exists on paper, as its maker, Sweden's Saab, is still developing it.

Story continues below…

Last month, Saab's Gripen beat the Rafale, made by France's Dassault, and the F/A 18 Super Hornet built by US company McDonnell Douglas in the race to sell 36 planes to Brazil.

The estimated value of the Brazil deal is $5 billion.

The air force of neutral Switzerland currently has 32 Super Hornets in service, purchased in 1996.

There are currently 166 Gripen fighters in service globally, with 100 in Sweden, 26 in South Africa, 14 each in the Czech Republic and Hungary, and 12 in Thailand, according to Saab.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How a Swedish rocker saved the life of this cute baby elk
Erik Brodén's daughters Tyra and Brita with the elk baby. Photo: Private

Probably the sweetest story you'll read today.

Man sentenced over dinner party murder in west Sweden
The man during a preliminary court hearing last year. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

He stabbed his friend at a dinner party and attempted to kill two others.

The Local List
Ten reasons why Varberg is the best place in Sweden
The Local shows some love for Varberg. Photo: Mikael Pilstrand/MarknadVarberg

Forget Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö, it looks like seaside town Varberg is Sweden's place to be.

Zlatan on his future: 'I made my choice a long time ago'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Thursday's press conference. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Go on then, Zlatan, tell us what it is.

Nooo! Rain and floods set to dampen Swedes' summer joy
Rain in Sweden earlier this year. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

So, that was the Swedish summer? Nice while it lasted.

Homes
Slow design: How Nordic style can make your life better

The world has long been hungry for Nordic lifestyle, with its love of design, nature, and light. But this is about much more than painting your floorboards white or throwing a sheepskin on a chair – it’s a mindset that informs everyday life.

Report: Swedish information security 'not good enough'
Information security in government agencies has been criticised. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Low levels of security could lead to significant consequences, the state auditor warned.

Man arrested in Malmö after armed attack on car
Damaged cars at the scene of the incident. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The incident occurred in the south of the city.

What's on in Sweden
Four fantastic foodie events across Sweden this weekend
It's beer and food galore in Stockholm this weekend. Photo: Brooklyn Brewery Mash

Are world foods your thing, or do you prefer a banquet with beer? Either way you're covered in Sweden this weekend.

Sweden votes yes to controversial Nato deal
A Nato exercise in Spain 2014. Photo: AP Photo/Daniel Tejedor

A bid to stall the decision was voted down.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Blog updates

20 May

Editor’s blog, May 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Do not mention Abba! Or cuckoo clocks! Our most read article this week was…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
Politics
Why Sweden's Greens are in free fall
National
Can these cartoon Swedes help foreigners blend in?
National
Why this fearless woman is the talk of Sweden
National
Sweden set for sunny weekend
3,362
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se